Vayikra

Tzav

A thought on this week’s Parsha…

One of the Mitzvot in this week’s Parasha is bringing a Korban Todah / thanksgiving-offering. In particular, the Gemara enumerates four types of people who are obligated to give thanks: one who crossed a desert, one who was released from prison, one who was sick and was cured, and one who traversed the sea.

R’ Nosson Sternhartz z”l (1780-1845; foremost student of R’ Nachman of Breslov) writes that one who brings a Korban Todah is not merely giving thanks for his own salvation. Rather, we read in Yeshayah (63:9), “In all their pain, it is painful for Him”–meaning, say our Sages, that when we suffer, Hashem “suffers,” so-to-speak, with us.

How so? R’ Nosson explains: When a Jewish person is sad, the Shechinah is said to be “in exile.” The reason is that sadness and depression often lead a person to sin or, at least, to drown his sorrows in the pursuit of physical pleasures. Either way, the Shechinah is driven out of the picture. In contrast, the joy of salvation followed by a thanksgiving-offering invites Hashem’s Shechinah back into the world.

The Korban Todah is accompanied by forty loaves of bread! Why so much bread? R’ Nosson explains: When Adam sinned, Hashem told him (Bereishit 3:17), “Through sadness you shall eat [bread] all the days of your life.” But, through the joy of revealing Hashem again, one can eat bread without sadness.

Today, notes R’ Nosson, we have no Temple and, therefore, no Korban Todah. Instead, one who experiences a salvation must give thanks joyously, with his full heart.

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Avi and Miriam Mammon & family


Parsha Summary for Parshat Vayikra by Rabbi Tendler

1st Aliya: Additional instructions regarding the Olah – ascent offering, and the Mincha – meal offering are detailed.

2nd Aliya: The special meal offering of the Kohain Gadol and the special inaugural meal offering of the regular Kohain is described. This was the same offering in both cases; however, the Kohain Gadol brought his offering every day while the regular Kohain did so only on the day of his inauguration into the service of the Bais Hamikdash. Additional laws of the sin offering, and the guilt offering are detailed.

3rd Aliya: Additional laws of the peace offering are detailed along with those portions of the offering that must be shared with the Kohain.

4th, 5th, 6th, & 7th Aliyot: The remainder of the Parsha describes the first seven days of the inaugural process for Aharon and his four sons. Moshe functioned as the Kohain Gadol to officiate over the inaugural process, and Aharon and his sons were forbidden to leave the Mishkan the entire time.

Vayikra

A thought on this week’s Parsha…

Parshas Vayikra opens with the laws of the Korban Olah, a volunteered offering with a variety of options, depending on one’s financial status. The wealthier individual could bring cattle, a less wealthy person, sheep, an even poorer individual could bring a turtledove. For the most destitute individual who would like to offer something but has no money for even a turtledove, the Torah commands: “When a nefesh, a soul, offers a meal-offering to Hashem, his offering shall be of fine flour; he shall pour oil upon it and place frankincense upon it” (Leviticus 2:1). Rashi adds a comment: “Nowhere is the word nefesh used in connection with free-will offerings except in connection with the meal-offering. For who is it that usually brings a meal-offering? The poor man! The Holy One, blessed be He, says, as it were, I will regard it for him as though he brought his very soul as an offering” (Menachos,104b).

The Chasam Sofer asks both a poignant and practical question. The price of fine flour is more expensive than that of a turtledove! So why is the fine flour offering the option meted for the poorest person, and why isn’t the one who brings the turtledove considered as if he gave his soul?

It was only a few days before Passover when a man entered the home of Rabbi Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik of Brisk, known as the Bais Halevi. The man had a look of constant nation on his face.

“Rabbi he pleaded. I have a very difficult question. Is one allowed to fulfill his obligation of the four cups of wine with another liquid? Would one be able to fulfill his obligation with four cups of milk?” The Bais Halevi looked up at the man and began to think.

“My son,” he said, “that is a very difficult question. I will look into the matter. But until then I have an idea. I would like to give you some money in order for you to purchase four cups of wine for you and your family.”

The Bais Halevi, then took out a large sum of money, far more than necessary for a few bottles of wine, and handed it to the man who took it with extreme gratitude and relief. One of the attendants who helped Rabbi Soloveitchik with his chores was quite shocked at the exorbitant amount of money that his rebbe gave the man.

He gathered the nerve to ask. “I, too, understood from the man’s question that he needed to buy wine for the seder and could not afford more than the milk he was able to get from his cow. But why did you give him so much money? You gave him not only enough for wine but for an entire meal with meat!”

Rabbi Soloveitchik smiled. “That, my dear student is exactly the point! If a man asks if he can fulfill his obligation of the four cups of wine with milk, then obviously he cannot have meat at the seder. That, in turn, means that not only can he not afford wine, but he also cannot afford meat or fowl! So not only did I gave him money for wine, I gave him money for meat as well!”

The Chasam Sofer tells us that we have to ponder the circumstances and put the episode in perspective. The poorest man he who cannot even afford a lowly bird — has a form of Torah welfare. It is called leket, shikcha, and peah — the poorest and most destitute are entitle to grain left behind in field. And from that grain, which was not even bought, the man can make a fine flour. When that individual decides to remove the grain from his very own table and offer that grain to the Almighty, he is considered giving his soul. True, a bird may cost less, but to the poorest man, even the bird costs more than the grain he received gratis. However, when he takes those kernels and gives from them, he is offering his very soul!

Often we try to assess contributions and commitments based on monetary value. It is an inaccurate evaluation, for a wealthy man may give time which is harder for him to give than his money. A musician may give of his skill, despite aching fingers or a splitting headache. The Torah tells us that when we assess the needs of a poor man or anyone who gives, don’t look at the wallet. Look at the whole person. And the way to do that is to look at the soul person.

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Avi and Miriam Mammon & family


Parsha Summary for Parshat Vayikra by Rabbi Tendler

1st & 2nd & 3rd Aliyot: The instructions for offering an “Oleh” – burnt offering (fully consumed on the Alter) is detailed. This offering could be brought from a bull, or male sheep or goat. The less expensive “Oleh”, using a Turtle Dove or common dove, is described. The Mincha, an offering made from baked, fried, or deep-fried matzoh type crackers is detailed.

4th Aliya: The Korban Shlomim – the peace offering, brought from male or female cattle, sheep, and goats is described.

5th Aliya: This aliya describes this Korban Chatas – the sin offering. Three unique sin offerings are described:

1. When the High Priest sinned
2. If the King sinned
3. If the entire nation sinned because of a wrong ruling by the Sanhedrin – High Court.

Note: A Korban Chatas could only be offered if the sin was unintentional.

6th & 7th Aliyot: The Korban Chatas of a commoner is detailed, as well as the specifics of the Korban Asham – the guilt offering. This Korban was offered in instances where intentional wrongdoing was implicated; such as not fulfilling an assumed oath, or doing something questionable without first ascertaining the law. Additionally, a type of Asham was offered in instances of dishonesty and swearing falsely.